Leave Them All Behind
Given the recent resurgence of shoegaze — reunion tours in the last two years by My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and now the best of the bunch, Ride — I was curious to see if Andy Bell would in fact be staring at his shoes as he led Ride through this return to Japan, playing Fuji Rock’s main stage on Sunday night. And yes! He did stare in a generally downward direction, though to be fair, it was mostly at his guitar while he was playing it. And not the entire time. When he and Mark Gardener sang, they did the correct thing and sang to the crowd…but one can still see how the genre got its name. There is a shyness or social reticence to this band, or maybe it would be better to say that they really do prefer to say what they have to say through their amplifiers.
Ride — Bell, Gardner, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt — took to the Green Stage by launching into a 10-minute version of “Leave Them All Behind”. If you’re a fan of the band, you could have died and gone to heaven right then and there. It was everything good about Ride and their music. It was shoegaze, but it wasn’t afraid to be big, and jam out, and lay down a propulsive beat, and weave catchy guitar hooks and flashes of psychedelia into the thick atmospherics of a song that didn’t wait to gather steam, it just bowled you over from start.
Ride’s entire catalogue may not be as strong as that single tune, and they couldn’t quite hold that high standard for the entire 70 minutes of their set, but the rendition of “Seagull” was awesome, and renditions of “Chrome Waves”, “Time of Her Time” and other favorites were all enjoyable. They closed out with “Vapour Trail” and “Drive Blind”, which exploded into rousing swirl of noise, which could have ended the song but they pulled out of it to return to the guitar chords and put the set to bed with music, not noise.
The crowd was muted but appreciative, which is actually somewhat typical in Japan, and perhaps shoegaze in many places. Bell was scraggly and unshaven. I couldn’t help thinking back to an argument the day before with a guy who claimed that Ride and specifically Andy Bell paved the way for the later success of Oasis in particular and that 90s Britrock guitar bands in general. “Without Ride it never would have happened,” is, I believe, what he said. I couldn’t get on board with this view of absolute causality, but one certainly has to admit the influence. And as if Fuji Rock had the same thing in mind, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were up next. So at least one could say that on this particular day, Ride did in fact pave the way for Noel Gallagher. One wonders what Bell and Gallagher had to say to each other backstage, given that Bell used to play for Oasis but then wandered off into the “wrong” camp to play for Liam and Beady Eye.
Photo: MITCH IKEDA | Text: DAVE FRAZIER
Posted on 2015.7.27 10:28